Description of Historic Place
The Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station at Woodstock is a two-storey, Gothic Revival railway station, built in 1885. It is located in an industrial area of the city of Woodstock. The formal recognition is confined to the railway station building itself.
The Former Canadian National Railways (CNR) (VIA Rail) Station at Woodstock reflects the intense competition between railway companies in southwestern Ontario during the 1880s. Designed by the Great Western Railway (GWR), the station was built by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) after its acquisition of the GWR, in an effort to discourage the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Its substantial size and distinctive design were typical of the GTR approach of providing signature stations for medium-size Ontario cities. The station was a focal point for Woodstock’s prosperous industrial sector.
The Woodstock station is a fine example of a late-19th-century, eclectic, Gothic Revival railway station. It is an excellent example of the work of Joseph Hobson, who designed the station as chief engineer for the GWR, and built it as chief engineer of the Great Western division of the GTR. The Woodstock station epitomizes the combined agent’s residence and station commonly built by railway companies in southern Ontario during the mid-Victorian period. The station’s domestic scale and picturesque appearance are typical of contemporary public and domestic buildings in southwestern Ontario.
The station retains its relationship with various elements of its site, including the adjacent railway tracks, a nearby industrial area, including a warehouse opposite the station, an adjacent hotel, two turn-of-the-century overpasses and the hilly area around the station. The station maintains its viewplanes to all of these elements.
Sources: Heritage Character Statement, Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station, Woodstock, Ontario, March 1994; Glenn J. Lockwood, Railway Station Report 198, Former Canadian National Railways Station, now VIA Rail, Woodstock, Ontario.
Character-defining elements of the Former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station at Woodstock include:
-its irregular form and asymmetrical massing, consisting of a two-storey, hip-roofed block with projecting bays and gables of varying sizes, a long, low, single-storey wing with a gable roof and a projecting, gable-roofed pavilion at the far end
-its domestic scale, evident in the two-storey block, the steep roofs, and the proportions and arrangement of window and door openings
-its Gothic Revival style, expressed in its steeply sloping roofs and complex roof line, gables of varying size and type, projecting bays, open timber brackets, profiled barge-boards cut with open quatrefoils and moulded brick
-the effects of light and shadow created by the complex, gabled roof line, the projecting and receding bays and pavilions throughout the composition, the stepped and moulded brickwork at doors and windows, the wide eaves of the gable ends and the verge-board with cut-out cinquefoils
-the vertical orientation of the two-storey block, expressed in its steep roof and gables, the tall, narrow proportions of door and window openings, the use of transoms to emphasize the height of doors and the painted, corner bricks in imitation of the original polychromatic patterning
-the platform canopy along the track elevation of the one-storey wing and a small verandah with scalloped verge-board, both supported on large, timber brackets
-its fenestration, consisting of tall, narrow windows in paired or tripled groupings, small, triangular attic windows and curved, brick voussoirs
-the outside entrance on the ground floor of the two-storey block
-surviving original doors and window units
-its materials, including polychromatic brick construction and detailing, limestone lintels and wood verge-boards and trim
-surviving original exterior woodwork, including open timbers under the verandah roof and a verandah support.
-surviving original interior woodwork, including: window casings; doors; baseboards; tongue-and-groove panelling in the attic; and plaster trim.